Chapter 138: Attacked
The crowd was still keyed up and anxious as they watched the retreating forms of the imperial guards. Still, there was a feeling of things left without a conclusion, as if something was missing.
"Your Highness, let's bring mufei back quickly. Mufei's still poisoned, we need to find a doctor!" Murong Wanru was very agitated.
But her words were intolerable to Han Yunxi. She was a poisons doctor herself. Was Murong Wanru treating her as air? Unexpectedly, Grand Concubine Yi nodded as well. "Feiye, let's go back. Hurry and find an expert poisons doctor for mufei, mufei's throat is really uncomfortable."
Long Feiye didn't reply as he supported Grand Concubine Yi by the arm and prepared to leave. Han Yunxi looked after them coldly. She didn't mind Grand Concubine Yi or Murong Wanru, but the sight of Long Feiye's back made her feel like a downright stranger. An inexplicable sense of disappointment secretly crept into her heart.
All right, those three had been part of one family from the start. It was her who was the outsider.
When Madame Li used poison, her detox system hadn't alerted her to anything. Either Madame Li had tricked them all, or else her poisons were wholly unique. If that was the case, Han Yunxi would like to see what kind of formidable poisons expert Grand Concubine Yi could find in the capital. Grand Concubine Yi and Murong Wanru, you've thrown quite a few rocks after me in the well with the Han Family affairs and the bet. You better not have a day when you're begging me for help!
Just as Han Yunxi was looking after them with narrowed eyes, Long Feiye suddenly turned back, voice cold. "Han Yunxi, you're still not leaving?"
Han Yunxi's heart gave a lurch. These were such familiar words! Though he'd only said them to her once, when they were finished paying respects to the empress dowager at the palace, she still felt overwhelmingly nostalgic towards this line. It was as if she'd never been abandoned. She gave a start before suddenly breaking into a smile.
"Your Highness, chenqie needs to wrap up a bet, so I can't leave just yet."
Mu Liuyue had been staring dazedly towards Long Feiye before these words forced her to look at Han Yunxi.
That's right, there was still a bet!
The lingering crowds remembered as well. Madame Li had scared them too thoroughly just then that they'd all neglected this fact. No wonder they felt like something was still missing. Han Yunxi admitted that she was acting dirty. Mu Liuyue, this is retribution. You were heartless towards me, so don't blame me for being unfair to you!
Afraid that Long Feiye would leave, Han Yunxi hastened to add, "Your Highness, Miss Liuyue and chenqie made a bet. Since she lost, she has to fulfill the conditions of the bet."
"Your Highness, let's go back. Mufei's health is more important," Murong Wanru urged under her breath. After all, her and Mu Liuyue were allies in this case.
But Long Feiye didn't seem to have heard her words at all. He ordered Chu Xifeng under his breath to take Grand Concubine Yi back before turning around and walking over. Murong Wanru was bewildered. His highness had never enjoyed hustle and bustle, but why was he interested today? She glanced at Mu Liuyue but was ultimately helpless. In the end, she could only go back first with Grand Concubine Yi.
As Long Feiye approached, Mu Liuyue's heart gradually sank. Everything was no good! Once, she'd hoped for this man to look at her, even if it was for an extra second. But today she wished she could hide in a crack on the ground.
"What kind of bet?" Long Feiye asked mildly, his direct gaze on Mu Liuyue.
At his words, Mu Qingwu clapped himself on the forehead. He knew that his little sister was done for. His Highness Duke of Qin had taken interest in the bet a lot time ago. Wasn't he just asking on purpose while knowing the answer?
Mu Liuyue's head lowered until it couldn't go any lower, her face feeling like it was on fire. It had always been her dream to gain the Duke of Qin's attention. Whether it was her figure or her face, she'd always taken pains to maintain both while dressing herself up. For years, she'd strictly regulated herself in the hopes that His Highness Duke of Qin would look at her directly one day and leave with a good impression, a lasting memory.
But...but today she was in her most difficult, most embarrassing position.
She was stupid enough to be used by the assassin, and foolish enough to place this bet with Han Yunxi. This...she might as well spit blood until she died! How could she be such a hopeless idiot, brainless enough to lose face completely?! Heavens, how would the Duke of Qin look at her now? What would he think?
"We bet whether chenqie could uncover the true poisoner within a month. There's still three days until the deadline, so chenqie's won." Han Yunxi's smile was very smug. It'd taken so much effort to triumph, so of course she'd grin to her heart's content.
Mu Liuyue's fists clenched inside her sleeves as she listened. She was cursing silently in her heart. Han Yunxi, you slut!
Still, Han Yunxi remained cheerful and smiling. "Your Highness, the loser has to take off their outer robes and run a circle around Xuanwu Street."
Finally, Mu Liuyue couldn't take it anymore. She reached out a hand to tug at her brother's sleeve for help. "Brother..."
Mu Qingwu's eyebrows were completely scrunched together. Although he'd remained impartial throughout the investigation, he was still hesitant before the terms of such a bet. It really was too much to strip and run around the streets. Once the clothes were off, one's reputation and integrity would be lost as well. If Liuyue really did such a thing, how could she still be considered upright? How could she have any more footholds in Tianning capital's social circles? How would she ever get married off?
Moreover, she'd lose face and prestige for the general's estate as well.
Mu Qingwu paused for a bit before opening his mouth. "Esteemed wangfei, Your Highness, Liuyue's still young and doesn't know any better. This matter concerns a girl's reputation and integrity; it'll affect the rest of her life. I ask that there be leniency to spare her this once."
Han Yunxi knew that Mu Qingwu would plea for mercy. She gazed coldly at Mu Liuyue's hand, still holding on tightly to her brother. A disdainful curve crept onto her lips. Some people had moral integrity and strength of character. Some others could submit or assert themselves as the occasion required.
If Mu Liuyue had more courage to accept her fate and stubbornly promise to undertake it, Han Yunxi would naturally be more lenient. If Mu Liuyue didn't depend on Mu Qingwu and pleaded to her personally, she might have relented as well. But this lass had no backbone to carry out her promise, nor did she submit. She couldn't bow down and ask her herself.
Who knew what a girl like her was so proud of all the time.
Han Yunxi had won this gamble brilliantly, but it hadn't been easy. If she let Mu Liuyue off just because Mu Qingwu interceded on her behalf, that would be doing herself a disservice. After all, if she hadn't won today, there wouldn't have been anyone to plead on her behalf. Her fate would definitely be worse off than Mu Liuyue's. Since Mu Liuyue dared make such a big deal out of everything, she had to pay the price!
"A bet is a bet, how could one treat it as a children's game?" Han Yunxi challenged mercilessly.
Big brother's already begged her, what else does she want?! Mu Liuyue was furious. She was going to retort when Mu Qingwu held her back. He clenched his teeth and said, "Esteemed wangfei..."
Han Yunxi cut him off just as he began. "Young General, the people from your general's estate aren't the kind to go back on their words, are they?"
Mu Qingwu was a frank and upright person. How could he bear such a question? He really wanted to tell Han Yunxi, 'No.' If it was him in his sister's place, he'd see the results to the end no matter what kind of bet or consequences existed. But this was his little sister. For her sake, all he could do was endure. A long time passed before he decided to risk everything. His gaze looked towards Han Yunxi, then Long Feiye, before he spoke.
"Your Highness Duke of Qin, Liuyue is still a virgin maiden, she definitely cannot do this! This humble official begs Your Highness to reconsider!"
Mu Liuyue's heart trembled faintly with joy at these words. She knew that big brother was using the general estate's face to plead with the Duke of Qin. No matter what, her household wouldn't tolerate a slight in the capital and was comparable with other houses. The Duke of Qin should give them more face. Now that she finally saw a sliver of hope, she wasn't so flustered anymore. She was even a little expectant, knowing full well that she had the highest chances of earning special treatment amongst the Duke of Qin's adoring admirers.
Long Feiye seemed to be in thought as he looked at Mu Qingwu. "Take off the outer robes and run around the streets? Who came up with this idea?"
Mu Liuyue rejoiced at these words. Heavens, there had to be hope if His Highness Duke of Qin was asking such a question? Otherwise, based on his personality, he'd decline any requests outright. Mu Liuyue seemed to have gained a new life as she quickly raised her head, face pleasant and kind. "Your Highness, it was esteemed wangfei's idea, not mine!"
But Long Feiye only gave her a disdainful glance as he questioned coldly, "If you agreed to the bet, you must be prepared to lose. What else is there to say?"
Mu Liuyue stumbled back and fell to sit on the ground as if all the air had been sucked out of her body. She felt listless and physically paralyzed as tears flowed uncontrollably from her eyes. His Highness Duke of Qin actually...actually disdained her this much. He didn't leave any face for the general's estate. Agree to a bet by preparing to lose, was he expecting her to really take off her robes and run around the streets? He was going to look on unfeelingly as she completely ruined her image?
So as it turned out, she wasn't even worth mentioning in his eyes. She was unessential despite her birth and background, and the general's estate was only something insignificant in his eyes.
Finally, Mu Liuyue was sobbing out loud. All of her dreams and hopes had completely shattered. What could be more lamentable than finding out the man you secretly admired for years saw you as nothing more than trash?
She couldn't take such a shock!
"No! I don't want to! I don't!" she cried and wailed, wildly pulling at Mu Qingwu's clothes. Yet Long Feiye didn't even spare her a glance when he turned to walk away.
"Miss Liuyue, don't try to back out in front of the Duke of Qin and all these people. There's still three days, so think it over carefully!" Han Yunxi cheerfully departed with these words as she hurried after Long Feiye. Mu Liuyue was left weeping and bawling...
Truthfully speaking, Long Feiye really was ruthless. He'd wounded someone so deeply without feeling a thing before leaving. Han Yunxi couldn't help but wonder: did he hurt everyone who liked him with his ice and cruelty?
It took effort for her to catch up before they were walking side-by-side. She was about to thank him when he asked her lightly, "You're still not going back?"
Huh...only then did Han Yunxi realize that this way was the opposite direction to the Duke of Qin's estate.
"You're...not?" Han Yunxi asked abruptly.
Long Feiye halted to glance at her. Without a word, his figure suddenly flashed before he disappeared.
All right, why would he tell her where he was going? Most likely he was off to the Solitary Enclosure to interrogate Han Ruoxue and take care of Madame Li's body. Han Yunxi looked back at the slowly dispersing crowd before recalling Seventh Madame and little Yi'er. She ran towards the back gates of the justice courts. Seventh Madame, you have to be all right. Now that two of the Han Family houses are gone, it's only you and little Yi'er left!
Fortunately, Seventh Madame's injury wasn't any more serious than a slightly concussion. Han Yunxi personally escorted Seventh Madame and little Yi'er back to the Han estate. She took care of things there without sleeping all right. Just when she was about to retire, the Duke of Qin's estate sent an urgent message saying that Murong Wanru was looking for her to go back.
For Murong Wanru to be so anxious now must mean that Grand Concubine Yi had really been poisoned. Not only that, but the poison doctors must have be unable to treat her.
Han Yunxi was bemused!